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Phillips Exeter Academy

School rating 4 / 5 by

20 Main Street Exeter NH 03833 United States
9th to PG
9th to PG


Phillips Exeter Academy review by .

The academics at Phillips Exeter Academy are extremely strong. The Harkness system is remarkable; it made classes much more interesting for me, and I think I learned a lot more as a result. I think it worked particularly well in history, English, religion, and math classes (i.e. the humanities classes). Science didn't follow Harkness as closely, and that was fine, since I think the subject material is more factual and less discussion-based anyway. The Harkness math program deserves a special description. Basically, math classes at Exeter consist of problem-solving. Instead of working from textbooks, which derive all of the results and encourage students to memorize them for later use, Exeter math classes use their own "textbooks", which are sets of problems with no formulas or derivations. Every day for homework, students do about a page worth of problems (about 8-10 problems), and the next day they present them on the board in class, with the teacher helping out when they run into trouble or pointing out important insights along the way. This is, in my opinion, the best way to learn math, because students must actually make the discoveries themselves. The problems are designed to help the students make the discoveries by giving them some examples and asking questions for them to think about. The method really does depend on students doing the work though--if a student gets lazy and just copies the work, he won't learn and won't have anything to look back on. Classes are 13 students or fewer, and some classes in the higher levels are quite small. There is a ton of instructor attention; teachers are extremely helpful and willing to meet with students who are struggling, and because it's a boarding school and many faculty live on campus, students can actually go visit them in the evening for extra help. There is a fair amount of work--I'd say about 4-5 hours per night--so students will be busy.

College Counseling

My experience with college counseling was great; my counselor and the rest of the college....

Sample insights on college counseling

  • They have contacts at most of the major universities and feel perfectly comfortable picking up the phone and advocating for a student to get accepted somewhere they feel is a good fit for that student. However, these counselors are certainly not magic bullets. They cannot guarantee that a student will get into an Ivy League university...
  • For those wishing to move on to Oxford or Cambridge, the provision is second-to-none. In the months running up to application and interview, every subject faculty offers classes (often run by former Oxbridge tutors) exploring further areas of their subject as well as offering advice on personal statements, interview technique and more...

Admissions - Getting Accepted

The admissions process was, in my opinion, a lot friendlier than college admissions. Mr.....

Sample insights on admissions

  • For the interview, dress conservatively. Try to be very clean and put together. Also, I was a tour guide for two years and at the end of every tour, we were asked to evaluate the candidate so if you think the tour is not apart of the process, you are very wrong. Ask questions and be interested. Also, tip for the parents: the kids speak on the tour. Do not ask their questions for them...
  • Most younger siblings have an easy time in the admissions process. I can only think of one case of a younger sibling not being admitted. About half of the students who entered with me had come from public schools. The remainder came from private K-6 schools, or had transferred from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard were two of the larger feeder schools...

School Life

I loved my life at Exeter; if I could go back and relive my experience I would without a second thought. The dorm experience was excellent. Students are placed in either dorms of 40-50 people, or in houses of 10-20 people. Each dorm or house (all of which were single-sex) is overseen by a group of faculty members, who enforce rules, plan house gatherings, and serve as the students' advisors in academics as well as in their lives. Additionally, responsible seniors in each dorm or house serve as proctors, ensuring that students are in the dorm....

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